I recently received a surprising referral from an existing client.

My client is in her mid-thirties. I’ve been working with her for several years, and we’ve accomplished a lot together. I often get word-of-mouth referrals from happy clients, so I wasn’t surprised when she said she had someone she wanted to put in touch with me.

What surprised me was who it was: it was her mother, Lisa.

Her mother had been diligent with money her whole life. She was always mindful of her spending, careful to make every penny count. She made a great income and regularly contributed to her RRSPs.

Why did her daughter want her to speak with me?

“My Mom isn’t living. She’s saving.”

Lisa rarely bought things for herself. She talked wistfully about a kitchen renovation, but never reached out to any contractors. Her little red MGB sportscar (a gift from her late husband) sat idle in the garage – fixing it would be “too expensive”.

She was generous with her daughter and grandchildren but lived her own life as if she couldn’t spare a single dime.

She had an advisor at the bank she’d been going to for 20 years, but she rarely connected with him. There was no specific need, as far as she was concerned. She put money into her RRSP, had a healthy savings account, and followed a budget.

But her daughter wanted her to enjoy life. Despite her money in the bank, Lisa still always seemed to be so anxious about money.

How could that be?

She didn’t have a comprehensive financial plan.

She had never been shown detailed trajectories for her retirement plan or seen stress-tested scenarios. Although she was doing what she was “supposed” to do, she didn’t feel totally confident that she was doing enough because she had no proof. She was constantly putting money away for the future “just in case”.

She regularly denied herself things she wanted out of fear that spending her money now would mean she couldn’t retire comfortably.

The need to hoard as much money as she possibly could for retirement had been instilled in her from a young age, and she couldn’t shake the anxiety.

When we connected, I tested Lisa’s retirement plan. I showed her exactly how much she could live on in a variety of scenarios. I showed her what it would look like if she reduced her contributions to retirement. I showed her what it would look like if she changed the way she saved money.

She was shocked.

By changing where and how she saved her money (taking it out of the traditional savings account, for starters!) she could afford to save far less and accomplish far more than she ever thought.

She could clearly see how retirement would play out for her.

She could clearly see how spending money on a kitchen renovation would affect her financial security in the next five years.

She could clearly see how her budget could be changed to allow for more Prime Rib and less round roasts. More “yes” and less “I can’t afford that”.

The numbers were clear. Right there on the page was permission to live more freely.

A financial plan brings more freedom, not less. It helps to alleviate the guilt around money. Knowledge is power, after all. And since your financial plan should be well-reviewed every year, it can shift to accommodate new goals and new circumstances.

A few months after we started working together, Lisa asked if we could have a Zoom check-in meeting. I was happy to meet with her, and we booked a time.

A few minutes into our meeting, Lisa came online. But when the video came on, it was her daughter’s face I saw. I was momentarily confused – did I mix up my meetings?

Then she flipped the camera around, and I saw Lisa.

She was sitting in a little red MGB in the driveway, smiling from ear to ear.

If you want to get rid of money guilt and see clearly how to accomplish your goals while living your life, book a call.